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Together with the cherry blossoms, the images here indicate the girls’ doll festival, or hinamatsuri, traditionally observed on the third day of the third lunar month. The painting is therefore a festive celebration of spring.
The clamshells were used for a matching game, with identical motifs or parts of a poem painted on the inner faces of corresponding halves. The shells were placed painted sides down and turned over one at a time.
The dog-shaped box with a child’s face was given to an expectant mother. The dog symbolized ease and safety of delivery for the mother, and was also a talisman to ward off evil for the child.
Alan Strassman; purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2000.